Some people simply couldn’t ever imagine getting married without mom and dad there to witness their “I do’s.” However, parents aren’t at the top of the invite list for everyone. What if you simply don’t have a solid relationship with your parents, or want to run away and get married in secret? Should you get married without your parents present? Certainly, plenty of people opt to take this route, for various reasons. (See Nick Jonas and Sophie Turner, who eloped in the most epic way just because.) That said, there are also some important things to consider if you’re choosing to leave your parents out of your big day.
First off, it’s important to note that there are a number of very valid reasons to exclude your parents from your wedding. For example, if they’ve made it clear that they don’t approve of your fiancée or your relationship (and they don’t have a legitimate reason for their disapproval), then you may feel uncomfortable having them present when you tie the knot. According to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and relationship therapist in Los Angeles, the nature of your relationship with your parents is the most crucial factor to consider when deciding whether or not to invite them.
“It is certainly reasonable to consider getting married without your parents present if you don’t have a good relationship with both of them,” he tells Elite Daily. “This could be especially true if the relationship is toxic.”
If either of your parents is estranged or mistreated you in any way, then you may — understandably so — be wary about including them in your wedding. The good news is, you certainly don’t have to. Even if they are applying pressure or guilt-tripping you, you should never feel obligated to let someone in on your wedding if it has the potential to negatively impact your health or happiness. This is your day, after all. And a person who has compromised your mental, emotional, or physical well-being probably doesn’t deserve to be there. Hopefully, your partner will be able to understand your decision and be supportive.
However, if there’s a small part of you that suspects you may regret your decision to exclude your parents, then you could try smoothing things over before you finalize your invite list. You might see if they’re open to seeing a therapist with you, or have another third-party mediator lead an open conversation with them addressing your issues. There’s no guarantee, of course, that this will resolve the problems in your relationship, but at least you’ll know you made your best effort to make amends.
But what if you have a good relationship with your parents? Dr. Brown says it’s crucial to consider whether it will cause a rift if you run off and get married without keeping them in the loop. That’s not to say that you can’t elope, but you may want to be careful about how, when, and where you break the news to your parents.
“It’s going to be near impossible in most situations to avoid hurt feelings if you want to get married without your parents present,” explains Dr. Brown. “So, you have to ask yourself what may do the least amount of harm.”
While it’s your prerogative to wait until after you’ve tied the knot to tell your parents about the elopement, Dr. Brown recommends considering letting them know ahead of time. That way, they feel like they’ve been kept in the loop, and your marriage doesn’t come as a complete shock to them. Plus, if they know you’re eloping ahead of time, you can find little ways to include them, should you decide you want to. For example, you could send them some pics or a short video before and after you exchange vows, which will help them to feel like they’ve still been a part of your big day. If you opt to get married in secret, you’ll probably want to fill your parents in as soon as possible once you’ve made it official. They are more likely to be upset if they find out from another family member, friend, or via social media, then if you make it a point to personally share the news.
Dr. Brown suggests that you could also involve them in this milestone by planning a post-marriage reception. This is a phenomenal way to go if you’re eloping, but have a positive relationship with your parents. Once you’ve made it official with your boo, you can plan either an intimate gathering with just close family or a larger bash with friends as well, to celebrate your nuptials. This gives you an opportunity to have your ultra-private yet also toast to this new chapter with loved ones.
Again, it’s totally up to you how much (or how little) you want to involve your parents in your wedding, and there’s no right or wrong in this regard. It’s all about coming up with a plan that makes you feel comfortable, and hopefully minimizes any hurt feelings on either end. It's easy to get caught up in catering to what other people want when you’re planning a wedding, but at the end of the day, your needs and wants are most important. If your relationship with your parents is toxic, then excluding them may actually do less damage then allowing them to be a part of your big day. However, giving some thought to how you’ll include mom and dad in this momentous event (if at all), as well as how you’ll share your news, can go a long way in terms of protecting your relationship with your parents as well as preserving your happiness. Who says you can’t have your wedding cake and eat it, too?